Arlington Approves Village Center Development on Columbia Pike

Published on February 20, 2016

  • 365 apartment units

  • New public square and open space

  • New grocery store, 31,000 additional square feet of retail

  • Approved under Form Based Code

The Arlington County Board today approved the redevelopment of the Food Star grocery store site at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive. The proposed Form Based Code development, initially named Village Center, includes a mixed-use six-story apartment building with 365 market-rate units, more than 31,000 square feet of retail, underground parking, a new full-service grocery store and a public square at the prominent corner.

"This is an exciting project that will bring more vitality to an important intersection on Columbia Pike and we look forward to its completion," said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.  "Over the next months, we will be working to see that the people who depend on the grocery store for their food will have other near-by options during construction and beyond."

The Board unanimously approved a resolution rezoning the site from "R-6" One-Family Dwelling District to "CP-FBC" Columbia Pike Form Based Code Districts, and approved a use permit for the development.

More retail and new grocery store

The plan approved by the Board will replace an older grocery store, small retailers and a surface parking lot on the three-acre site with a new apartment building, 31,530 square feet of ground-floor retail, and a 50,000 square-foot grocery store.

New public square for small gatherings

The 22,150 public square will serve residents of the apartment, and the community, as a place to sit, enjoy the surrounding, or hold small-scale events and gatherings. A garden, public art and a water feature are planned for the square.

Wider sidewalks, new streetscapes, car and bicycle parking

The proposed plan includes six-foot wide sidewalks and streetscape improvements along Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive. Pedestrians will have easy access between parking, stores, outdoor seating areas, the public square and entrances to the apartment building.

The three-level parking garage will have 604 spaces for cars, 128 reserved spaces for bicycles and 24 shared bicycle spaces for visitors.

Community process

The Columbia Pike FBC Advisory Working Group (FBC AWG) reviewed the proposal at several of its meetings. County staff presented the plan at a community meeting on February 3, 2016. The Parks & Recreation Commission reviewed the public square concept at its January 19, 2016 meeting and expressed general support for the square's design. The Urban Forestry Commission reviewed the public square concept at its January 28, 2016 meeting. The Commission also expressed general support for the square's design.

A joint meeting of the FBC AWG and Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) discussed the requested FBC modifications associated with this project on January 21, 2016. The two groups expressed general support for the revised design and indicated proposed design is appropriate.

The Planning Commission discussed the proposed Village Center plan at its meeting on February 10, 2016. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project including its three requested modifications to the FBC.

Form Based Code

The proposed development is located within the Columbia Pike Special Revitalization District and is eligible for redevelopment under the Columbia Pike Form Based Code (FBC). The County Board adopted this FBC in 2003. Focusing on commercial centers on Columbia Pike, the code provides a framework for redevelopment that is consistent with the Columbia Pike Initiative (CPI) — A Revitalization Plan, the community's vision to transform the Pike into a walkable main street.

The County Board adopted the CPI in 2002 and updated it in 2005. A second FBC was subsequently adopted by the County Board in 2013, focusing on residential areas located in-between the commercial centers and implementing the vision established in the 2012 Neighborhoods Area Plan.

Since the creation of both Form Based Codes, 381 new market-rate units and 173 Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) have been approved in Central Pike, the area of the Pike between South Four Mile Run Drive and South Glebe Road.

Project at a Glance


  • 950 S. George Mason Drive (Village Center)

  • 365 residential units 6-story apartment building

  • 22,150 public square

  • 81,530 sq. ft. of ground floor retail

  • 604 total parking spaces, 3-level underground parking garage

  • 128 reserved bicycle spaces in a secure storage facility

  • Three parcel site - 130,429 square feet (nearly 3 acres)

Developer: Orr Partners

Contact: David Orr, 703-855-1781

Architect: KGD Architects

Visit the Columbia Pike Village Center webpage for additional information.